The breathtaking colonial city of Cartagena sits along the Colombian Caribbean coast, offering plenty of colorful buildings, culture, and activities galore.
Cartagena, Columbia is considered the queen of the Caribbean coast. With 13 kilometers of colonial stone walls, this historic and colorful city offers a contrast between the beautiful blue waters of the caribbean and the architecture of the colonial era. Founded in 1533, just over a million people call this incredible city home. It’s the fifth-largest urban area within the country of Columbia with a thriving economy and an ever-growing tourism industry. Cartagena’s historical significance lies within its role in the expansion of the Spanish colonization of South America. Today, the walled city and fortress are considered UNESCO Historical Heritage Sites. And there’s a ton to do in this coastal dwelling. From diving deep into its historic past to exploring the natural scenery around the city, you’re bound to find a ton of activities to dip your toes into. There are beaches, high-rise buildings with roof-top pools, pumping nightlife, and more. It’s not a city you want to miss when visiting or living in Colombia.
Where to live in Cartagena
Most travelers and tourists alike opt to stay close to the beach and the historic area of the city. This is where most activities, tours, and restaurants are located, which means you can get the most out of each and every day spent in Cartagena - without worrying too much about traveling across town or safety. However, if you do want to travel a little farther within the city, taxis are your best option. (From the airport to the central tourist area, a taxi will cost you only $10.)
Best Neighborhoods in Cartagena
Generally, Cartagena has three main neighborhoods that cater to digital nomads; Bocagrande, The Old City (also known as Ciudad Amurallada), and Getsemani. Within these neighborhoods, you’ll find upper-class citizens and tourists, making them relatively safe and accessible when it comes to walking to restaurants, gyms, or coffee shops. There’s also plenty of accommodations to choose from in these areas, as well as easy and safe ways to get around. Since the city of Cartagena is smaller than Medellin or Bogota, it’s also generally easier to navigate either way. However, like anywhere across South America, you want to ensure you stay in a safe and convenient neighbourhood, which is exactly what these three places offer.
Amazing Apartments, Coliving Spaces and More
We've been rounded up the best housing options in Cartagena. All are available on flexible terms, so you can stay one month or as long as you want
Quick Facts About CartagenaCartagena is a walkable city full of tons of fun in the sun. Sprawled across just over 600 square kilometers, this city is well-known for its rich history, modern skyscrapers, and vibrant culture. Here are some more quick facts you should know before you move to Cartagena that might make living there that much better:
Real treasure has been found off the coast of Cartagena.In December of 2015, divers located over 17 billion dollars worth of gold and other treasure in the waters off of Cartagena. Today, the Americans, Colombians, and Spanish have still not agreed who this treasure belongs to.
The most rainfall takes place in the month of October.While sunny between December and April, May to November offers a more rainy season in this area. October takes the cake when it comes to rain in Cartagena with an average of 238 millimeters.
The British tried to invade Cartagena, but ultimately, they failed.Cartagena was the site of many epic battles. In 1741, the British set out to invade Cartagena with 27 400 men. Meanwhile, the Spanish army only had 4000 men. However, the British made many errors in their attack, which ultimately, led them to retreat. If the British had been successful, on the other hand, it’s safe to say that Spanish would not be the main Colombian language today.
Knowing your Spanish will get you far!With the emergence of Google translate, it’s no longer necessary to know the native language. However, with only about 25% of the population speaking English fluently, knowing your Spanish can pay off and save you the headache and delay of using Google translate.
A mud volcano is located just outside of the city.Volcán de Lodo el Totumo is a natural spa featuring mud baths, which offer an array of benefits. From removing toxins to offering up healing properties, the mud contains sulfites, phosphates, and magnesium. Head to this place for an afternoon and for a relaxing and soothing experience that isn’t to be missed.
The port of Cartagena is one of the largest in South America.It ranks fourth busiest port in South America, after ports in Panama, Brazil, and Mexico. It’s a hot spot for cruise ships to stop, allowing even more tourists to explore this historic city.
The coast of Cartagena is home to 27 Caribbean islands.Within 62 miles or 100 kilometers off the coast of this incredible colonial city lies various caribbean islands that are 100% worth checking out. Part of the Colombian National Park, there is a ton of marina land and sea to explore, along with adventures including snorkeling, diving, and swimming.
The Cartagena Film Festival is the longest-running Latin American festival.Also known as the FICCI, this film festival takes place each year in March, bringing people across Latin America together for celebrations galore. It all began in 1959 and continues to be a big event within Cartagena to this day.
Work in Cartagena
While finding work in Cartagena (and Colombia in general) can prove to be quite tough, Colombia is an ideal spot for digital nomads and expats. The country is very business-friendly, offering co-working spaces and various coffee shops to work from. Some of the top industries for hiring include the tourist industry, where speaking English is a huge asset. However, working within a Colombia industry won’t necessarily bring home the bank. The average minimum wage offers only about $260 per month.
How good is Cartagena for Digital Nomads or Remote Work
Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Cartagena. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Cartagena for both of these growing movements?
Average Internet SpeedThe internet in Cartagena leaves something to be desired, but at the same time, it’s entirely workable. The average internet speed comes in at about 11 Mbps.
Work-friendly Coffee ShopsThe wonderful climate throughout December to April offers a great outdoor space to work in cafes and coffee shops. So, where are some of the best spots for great Colombian coffee and exceptional Wifi? Here are the top spots for working: Folklore Colombian Coffee: Cool down after a day out in the sun and get down to business in this spacious coffee shop. With some of the best internet, you’re bound to have productive work sessions here. After lunch is the best time to go when the busy time has calmed down. Abacus Books and Coffee: If you want a coffee shop with a more unique style and layout, Abacus is it. With two locations located next door to one another, the second one provides areas perfect for working. Beiyu Cafe: For great food and an atmosphere ideal for working, this coffee shop is tucked away in the Getsemani neighborhood. The tables are a bit smaller and there isn’t air conditioning, but the food makes up for all of this.
Coworking SpacesSince Cartagena is a popular hub-spot for remote workers, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of great co-working spaces to go around. Many of these are unique to Cartagena and also are great places to meet unique and interesting nomads - like yourself! The top-rated coworking options include: Arsenal BRAINTECH: This coworking space comes highly rated. It has a go-getter atmosphere and also features regular workshops and presentations. Tu Work: Located right near the sea in Cartagena, Tu Work provides private offices and hot desks. If you’re looking for a better work-life balance, this one might be the best option for you. Selina: Selina coworking spaces are always beautiful and conveniently located. The Cartagena location is no exception. Located in the downtown area, you're within walking distance (or a short drive) to almost any attraction you desire to dive into after or before your work session. Many of these co-working spaces are located in or near the Getsemani and Bocagrande neighborhoods, close to attractions and beaches. They offer ideal locations for work and play, helping you find that perfect balance.
Suitable Level for Digital NomadsWith a thriving digital nomad scene and community, Cartagena has so much to offer. From great weather, good air quality, and decent internet to tons of fun, there’s so much to explore and do. It might even provide you with inspiration for that next big project. There are many places to work from, whether you prefer a coffee shop or coworking space. It’s also very walkable, which is a nice break from those big-city vibes you’ll find in Medellin or Bogota.
Visa RequirementsMost nationals, including the US, can stay in Colombia for 90 days with a basic visa obtained on arrival. However, there is an option to apply for a short-stay visa. You will need to submit many documents, including a copy of your passport, bank statements, travel itinerary, proof of accommodation, and other details of your stay. Overall, we recommend potentially limiting your stay to 90 days. This may mean hopping over to a Caribbean island for a weekend or a week, then renewing your 90-day visa upon re-entry into Colombia after a day or more away.
Food and Drink in Cartagena
Food and drinks in Cartagena are very affordable, with one meal costing less than $10. And of course, there are many local dishes you’ll want to try! A fried fish plate takes the top spot. You can often get these along the beach or at any restaurant. Usually served with coconut rice and patties, this dish will definitely quench your taste buds for many hours! Cazuela is another local dish in Cartagena. It’s a seafood stew mixed with shrimp, calamari, and clams, all cooked together in coconut milk. These two dishes are not to be missed. For great drinks, check out bars and restaurants like El Baron or Absenta Bistro Bar. Along with these hot spots and these must-try dishes, you can’t go wrong with street food. It’s local, tasty, and everything you’d want in a snack or quick lunch as you explore everything this colonial city has to offer.
Top 6 Things To Do in Cartagena
Cartagena is ideal for those that love the beach and natural scenery, along with a few historical vibes. There is a ton to do for almost anyone. Relax on the beach. Explore the fort and vast wall surrounding the historic sector. Learn to scuba dive or take a snorkeling trip in the afternoon. Check out the wonders of the Mud Volcano and bath and heal through the soothing minerals it provides. There are endless adventures to be had, and they are all waiting for you!
Museo Del Cacao (Choco Museo)
Carrera 7#36-145, Provincia de Cartagena
Cl. 36 #6-106, Provincia de Cartagena
City Sightseeing Cartagena
Cra. 2 ##6-60, Provincia de Cartagena
PLAZA OF CUSTOMS
Plaza de la aduana, Provincia de Cartagena
Casa Museo Rafael Núñez
Cra. 2 #41-89, Provincia de Cartagena